Fonterra set to simmer

Written By: - Date published: 12:10 pm, February 4th, 2009 - Comments Off on Fonterra set to simmer
Categories: articles, farming, john key - Tags:

simmering-milkLawyer Stephen Price has rubbished Fonterra’s claim that the Chinese sub judice status of the Sanlu case prevents Fonterra releasing documentation of their communications. Price also doubts any discussion of the issues here would influence the outcome of Sanlu Chairwoman Tian Wenhau’s appeal.

The criticism comes after Fonterra claimed it advised Sanlu only 0% melamine was acceptable but refused to provide documentary evidence of their account of events in the infant milk powder poisoning tragedy.

Fonterra have now confirmed Tian’s defence claim that guideline documents were given to her from a Fonterra board member about Europe’s highest permissible melamine levels (20mg/kg). Political Scientist Dr Anne-Marie Brady has questioned the dairy giant’s motives in giving Sanlu information about safe melamine guidelines when it would have expected the levels in the Chinese case to be extremely high, owing to the melamine’s presence coming from intentional adulteration with pure melamine rather than from inadvertant plastic container leaching (the justification given for the European >0 tolerance). Brady also suggests Tian may be being scape-goated when it seems likely that many people played some part in the events, raising further uncomfortable issues about how the affair is being addressed.

As more people become aware of this fiasco, calls for accountability will increase. Fonterra have agreed to make their documents available to Chinese authorities, but are persisting with their hope of keeping New Zealanders in the dark. Irrespective of morality considerations, because of Fonterra’s dominance of our export industry and its significance to our primary economy, we all have some interest in an assurance that Fonterra is being managed properly and transparently – a point clearly beyond the comprehension of some. Public demands for answers won’t go away after a crime of this scale. The question that just keeps on itching is “what have Fonterra got to hide if they acted as they’ve said they did”?

G.Blog has suggested a Commission of Inquiry is in order.

If Fonterra can’t be expected to volunteer the evidence then what’s needed is for John Key to step up and convene a proper investigation. Eventually Key will have no option but to do so – it’d be more becoming if he took action while it still looks like he has a choice.

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